Smile – XC is here!


Smiles could be see all around the East Coast this past weekend as the Ivy League cross country season has finally started.  While some big names did not make their debuts, other athletes stepped up their game to show how they should be contenders for not only berths on the HepsXC squad, but also possible All-Ivy scorers.  We recap the action below:

Harvard-Yale-Princeton Tri-Meet (Franklin Park; Boston, Mass.)

In the second edition of the renewed tri-meet, both of the men’s and women’s races had aspects that were nail-biting.  In the men’s 8km race, the runners were a tight bunch through the first 3 loops as no one tried to thin out the herd or put up a dominant time.  Fans could tell that it would be pack running that would determine the scoring outcome.  The individual title came down to the final 100m sprint as Harvard’s Tom Purnell battled Princeton’s Will Bertrand in the final grass stretch.  Purnell had the stronger kick, winning the meet in 24:48 while Bertrand finished in 2nd place with 24:49.  But Princeton had three athletes finish in the top 5 (Bertrand, Michael Sublette in third, Wolfgang Beck in fourth) to help keep their score low, allowing them to defend their team title with 31 points to Harvard’s and Yale’s 47 points.  Princeton’s top five runners had a 28 second scoring spread and an average race time of 25:03.40.  Harvard had the faster average over Yale – 25:11.20 to 25:13.60 – but Yale had the tighter racing pack as their top 5 scorers – led by Kevin Dooney with a 5th place finish in 25:04 – finished across a 31 second spread, while Harvard had at 51 second spread.

The women’s race did not need to come down to a final sprint to determine the winner – Princeton’s Elizabeth Bird had a comfortable winning margin of 7 seconds over Harvard’s Courtney Smith for the 5km race, 17:14 to 17:21.  But the 3-4-5 finish was a big sprint between Harvard’s Paige Kouba, Yale’s Dana Klein, and Princeton’s Emily de la Bruyere as all three of the ladies were bunched together in the final straightaway.  All three athletes were given the same time of 17:40, but the finish line crew gave the order of Kouba, Klein, then de la Bruyere.  This was key in the final team scoring as the Crimson women claimed the team title by just 1 point over the Lady Tigers, 36 to 37 points, for their first tri-meet win since 1995.  Yale finished in third with 50 points.  Even though Princeton had the lowest average time of the three teams (17:41.20, Harvard’s 17:43, Yale’s 17:52.60), Yale had the closest spread of 35 seconds to Harvard’s 37 and Princeton’s 40 seconds.

Brother Jasper XC Invitational (Van Cortlandt Park; Bronx, NY) – Rachel Sorna

The Ivy League Cross Country season kicked off on Friday in the most fitting of places – Van Cortland Park, the home of this year’s Cross Country Ivy League Championships. The Brother Jasper XC Invitational featured a number of teams – host Manhattan, Cornell and Columbia, as well as Army, Hofstra, and Southern Connecticut State. Though all teams raced at once, the scoring was done duel-style. On both the men’s and women’s sides, the Big Red came out on top in each of the duels. The Lions also won each of their non-Ivy duels, further displaying the strength and depth of the Ivy League.

The women kicked things off first as they competed over 5k. Cornell junior Taylor Spillane picked up right where she left off last fall and proved to be the class of the field as she won by 22 seconds with a time of 17:46.9. Behind her came a trio of fellow Cornellians, all finishing between 18:07.9 and 18:08.9 – senior Caroline Kellner (2nd), sophomore Erin McLaughlin (3rd) and freshman Eve Glasergreen (4th). Hot on their heels came a pair of Columbia seniors, Olivia Sadler and Leila Mantilla, at 18:10.1 and 18:10.9, good for 5th and 6th, respectively. Other top 10 Ivy finishers included Columbia junior Natalie Tanner (8th, 18:18.6), Cornell sophomore Shannon Hugard (9th, 18:22.1), and Cornell senior Claire DeVoe (10th, 18:23.4).

In the second race of the day, the men battled it out over a slightly long 6.1k course. The Cornell men completed a clean sweep as they took the top 5 places. They were led by individual winner senior Ben Rainero, who completed the course in 19:01.6, winning by 10 seconds. Behind him came a pack of four closely  bunched fellow Big Red Runners – junior David Taylor (2nd, 19:11.3), senior Brian Emistad (3rd, 19:11.6), senior Connor Herr (4th, 19:13.0), and junior Zack Israel (5th, 19:16.5). Columbia then proceeded to claim the next 9 performances, with their entire top 7 finishing within 4 seconds with times between 19:19.2 to and 19:23.4, led by sophomore Spencer Haik (6th). Coming in right behind him was senior Aubrey Myjer (7th), freshman Brian Zablinski (8th), juniors Max Norris (9th) and Rob Napolitano (10th), senior Tait Rutherford (11th), and sophomore Ryan Thomas (12th).

Big 5 Invitational (Belmont Plateau; Philadelphia, PA) women | men

Throughout the 2014 season, the Penn Quaker women had one of the smallest scoring spreads in the conference. Their season debut at the Big 5 Invitational continued that trend as their top 4 scorers finished within 0.4 seconds of each other in the 4km race. Senior Ashley Montgomery was the top Quaker with a time of 14:15.3, which was good for 2nd place overall behind winner Blanca Fernandez of Temple (14:11.7).  Last year, Montgomery had finished fourth overall with a time of 14:25.0.  Cleo and Clarissa Whiting and Abby Hong finished within a step of Montgomery, spanning 14:15.4 to 14:15.7 to cover third through fifth overall.  The team had all 5 of their scorers finish in the top 10, helping the team to defend their title with 23 points. They bested local rivals Villanova, St Joseph’s, La Salle, and Temple. The Quaker men also fared well on Belmont Plateau, finishing 4 in the 6km race top 10. They ended up 7 points away from the team title though as St Joseph’s bested Penn, 37 to 44 points. Patrick Hally was the top Penn athlete with a time of 19:14.9, while Clark Shurtleff and freshman Kurt Convey finished just steps back with the same time of 19:15.1. Hally was the top returning athlete from the 2014 Penn squad, as he finished 10th last year in 18:54.3.  The men’s scoring spread was only 8 seconds while the women’s was 16.9 seconds.

Fordham Fiasco (Van Cortlandt Park; Bronx, NY)

Van Cortlandt Park hosted another Ivy League dominating performance this past weekend.  On Saturday’s Fordam Fiasco, the Brown women placed seven runners in the top 10 of the 5km race.  Lucy Van Kleunen took the individual title in 18:46.1, just a step ahead of teammate Natalie Schudrowitz in 18:46.3.  Taylor Worthy, who enters the 2015 cross country season after being sidelined with an injury in 2014, finished in third with 18:47.1.  The dominating performance resulted in the Division 1 team title with a perfect 15 points. The team scoring was divided into two groups – Division 1 and Division 2.  Even if they had not split the categories, Brown would have still dominated the entire meet with 17 points.  Their scoring five had a spread of 29 seconds with an average time of 18:50, while their top 7 had a spread of 34.4 seconds.

Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Invitational (Bryant University; Smithfield, RI)

Meanwhile, closer to home, the Brown men and the rest of the Brown women participated in the Shawn M. Nassaney Memorial Invitational in Smithfield, RI.  Led by Will Sheeran with a 3rd place finish in the 5km race (14:51), Brown finished 2nd in the team event with 60 points.  Matt Mahoney also broke 15:00 in the 5km finishing 5th overall with a time of 14:55.  The five man scoring spread was 43.5 seconds.  In the women’s 5km race, Brown’s top finisher was Charlotte Walmsley with a 20th place finish in a time of 18:40.6.  This was Walmsley’s first competition since February 2015.  The Brown women finished 6th in the team competition with 165 points with the five-person scoring spread of 58.8 seconds.  Providence won both team titles – the men with 36 points and the women with a perfect 15 points.

Dartmouth Invitational (Hanover Country Club; Hanover, NH) women | men

Dartmouth dominated their only home cross country meet of the season on Saturday afternoon.  Both the men’s and women’s teams scored a perfect 15 points in their respective races.  Brian Masterson won the men’s 8km run with a time of 24:24.51, while Dana Giordano defended her 6km individual title with a time of 21:33.81.  Giordano won this race last year with a 21:14.50 finish. Masterson improved both his time and placing from last year, as he finished 7th overall in 24:40.8 in the 2014 edition of this race.  Leigh Moffett ran a 13-second personal best on the course to finish second in the women’s competition in 21:40.86. The Big Green men had 13 of the top 15 finishers (note – the two men who broke up the Dartmouth finish were actually Dartmouth alumni – Phil Royer in fourth and Silas Tablot in eighth) while the Big Green women had the first 10 finishers in their race.  The women’s scoring spread was a little over 13 seconds while the men’s scoring spread was just under 13 seconds.  Dartmouth bested local rivals UMass Lowell, Keene State College, Bentley University, and Middlebury College in both contests by comfortable margins.

photo by John and Matt Risley

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